Forming Good Form, Part Uno
Que Paso, Factoriamos? Ya know, we have a lot of people who come in through our doors looking for a variety of different answers, or help with different issues. We get a lot of people who have either just started running, or have been running for a long time, and are getting “knee pain for the first time ever. I have never had this before no matter what I have ever done.” Unfortunately it happens all of the time to people of all ages- the kids on the team I coach have it happen the same way grown men and women can have it happen to them. Often times we can help solve a customers issue by addressing something with their shoes if they came from another store- either they are too old, not the right type of support, not enough cushioning, or the wrong size/fit. But shoes are only part of the equation! We look at so many more factors than simply the shoes. We here at Sneaker Factory are firm believers in the idea that someones RUNNING FORM can have just as big of an impact on injury prevention as can your shoes.
Take a look at Joe “Maximus” Jacobis as he runs through the picturesque nature of America. If you read through Maximus’ SneakerFactory.com bio, you’ll notice pretty quickly that he is a pretty fantastic runner (although he probably would never admit it, that humble dude!). One of the great things about HOW Joe runs is his form. Just about picture perfect! Let’s break down what Joe does so well:
If you look at the markings, you will notice how angular Joe’s legs and entire body are. We will call his left leg his drive leg, because he is driving the leg forward USING THE HAMSTRING. This is super important to note that Joe is pulling his leg up using the hamstring, rather than pushing his lower legs off with his calf muscle. The hamstrings are the strongest and largest muscle group in your legs, but most distance and endurance athletes let this muscle group go dormant and become stagnant because they PUSH with their calves, a much smaller muscle group. This is why we wind up with so many lower leg, or front knee injuries. Our bodies were meant to run the way sprinters and elite distance athletes do- by pulling rather than pushing! You can also see that Joe’s legs enter into a triangle of sorts- my buddy Rich Airey at RunningWOD.com calls this the Figure 4 position (because it looks like a “4” if you stand up straight and do it). This position is how you end up maximizing the distance you cover in each and every stride.
If you look at this last picture here, you will note the amazing blue arrows in front of Joe. Those aren’t there just to accentuate Joe’s striking figure, or baby blue eyes, they demonstrate where he is looking and where he is moving. Note how Joe is looking straight ahead, not down at the ground or up in the sky. Joe is focused on the direction he wants his body to be moving in, so he is looking straight ahead. Some suggest looking 20-30 yards ahead of you so you can see both the horizon, as well as anything hazards that might be on the ground! Dr. Love suggests keeping your head/neck at a 90degree angle and looking from whatever angle you can see when your head/neck are in the position Joe has his at in the picture. With his head/neck and eyes looking in the direction he is moving, Joe is also bringing his entire body in a forward direction with him. His chest, arms, hips, and finally his legs are driving straight forward without oscillating, rotating, or shifting off to the sides. In other words, all of the momentum (which is an objects velocity multiplied by the mass of the object) Joe has is going straight forward. Often times if we bring our arms across our body, or our heads are looking away from where we are running to, we lose our bodies momentum off to the side and slow down. Even Joe’s plant foot is angled forward, as denoted by the amazing right triangle. It’s a beautiful stride, complete with Figure 4 position, dorsiflexion on the right foot, and arms moving straight forward! No wonder Joe runs so fast!!
Well Factorians, there is a LOT more to come in the way of form-we can’t have ALL of the fun in one post!- and how we here at Sneaker Factory help you improve upon yours! if you ever have any questions, or would like someone to take a close look at HOW you are running, stop by one of our stores and pick our brains a little bit (or leave a question/comment here on the blog…), we are always more than willing to help you out with any and all of your running questions and needs!
This is Dr. Love, saying do like Maximus, and run forward, run fast!